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How do you get through something Like This?

How survived losing the people I loved.

Hi, my name is Christine, I am 59 years old, although most days I don’t feel that old! I am a client relations manager in the medical field and have been with the same company for 14 years. I am blessed with 3 adult sons and 5 amazing grandchildren.

I was asked to tell a little about my story and I am honored to do so. Mental health awareness is a passion of mine and any time I can talk about it I am more than willing.

I attended a conference a couple weeks ago, and at each table sat 8 women. The first woman that introduced herself shared that she had been in an abusive marriage/relationship and had struggled with that until finally leaving her spouse. Once she spoke up, every single woman at the table spoke up too. All 8 had been in either a verbally abusive, physically abusive (or both) relationship. I found that astounding and sad. But it just reinforced

the reason we must continue to speak up about mental health and all that it entails.

I have been married 3 times. My first marriage was toxic. Before we were married, our first-born son was killed in a car accident at the age of 3 months. I was very close to death myself as I was driving the car when it went out of control on these Michigan wintery roads and was struck broadside by an oncoming vehicle. I was in intensive care for 10 days, not able to attend my son’s funeral. They brought my family to my bedside one by one to talk to me and give me a will to live or I was not going to make it either.

I do not remember any of it, it’s amazing how your mind protects you when needed.

My son’s dad and I married a few months later. We never dealt with our grief, and I think because of that we took our emotions out on each other. Physical and verbal battles occurred weekly. I lost jobs, friends, family contact and so much more. Some days I would give it right back to him, I was so angry all the time. We endured this for 20 years, while still never addressing the grief and never seeking help. Sometimes I would encourage the battle so he would just end my life and be done with it.

Three years after my son died, my 19 yr. old niece committed suicide, she had been sexually abused by her stepfather. This of course added to my mental state, as it did to the rest of the family. But again. No help was sought. It was talked about very little. Pushed under a rug. The same as my son’s death, and my marriage. No one talked about anything important. It was an out of sight, out of mind crazy way of thinking.

Fast forward 20 years, I now had three sons, and was still married to their dad. A wonderful friend came into my life. We were coworkers and became best friends. She brought me back to God. Restored my faith. She showed me the strength I had within myself. With her and God at my side, I left that marriage for good. Three years later this wonderful friend, Tracy, began having serious mental health concerns. She was suicidal. Although she reached out for help, and so did those that loved her, sadly she ended her life. (She sought inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, medicine changes, family support, etc.)

My friend Tracy

Just months after Tracy’s passing, I married again. Looking back, I know it was out of grief and fear of abandonment. The marriage lasted an entire year. Before Tracy’s passing, she began to place seeds of God’s faithfulness in my life. I started receiving cash and checks in my mailbox completely out of the blue. The more I relied on God, the more He provided

for me. But I was so broken. I never grieved for my son. I never grieved for my niece. I never grieved for Tracy. I just kept pushing it further and further down.

And now I know, that is where my anger came from.

It was fear. Fear of abondonment!

The toxic marriage left me with no sense of self-worth. All the names I was called sunk in like cement. In my mind I was unlovable, unintelligent, and unworthy of any friendship. 20 years of abuse does not just go away. Trust me, it takes work. A lot of work. Abuse ends, but the learning and mental healing can take years. No matter which side it is on.

A few years after my 1-year marriage, I reconnected with my high school sweetheart. We began hanging out as friends for a couple years and eventually married in 2016. He was amazing. We attended church together, prayed together, we were best friends. He treated me like a queen! We were each other’s whole world. I was finally reconnected with my soulmate.

Me and my high school sweetheart Rod

A couple years after this, I watched both my parents pass away from old age. More loss. More grief. Two years later, my oldest sister passed away from COPD and heart disease. Another loss. More grief to push down inside. Then we got the news. Five years after getting married my amazing husband was diagnosed with colon and kidney cancer. We were told this was absolutely something he would get passed. So, he had surgery, and started chemo and radiation.

After his second chemo treatment, he became ill and was taken to the hospital by ambulance from our home. This was during covid so I could not go with him. It was the last time I saw him awake. I got the call from the physician in the middle of that same night that he had begun vomiting, aspirated, and went into cardiac arrest with his heart stopping multiple times. He was on life support with no chance of recovery. Later that day, I held his hand as they removed the life support, and he took his last breath.

More grief. Different grief. Insane grief.

Depression set in. People ask how you get through something like this. Well, I’m not sure. All I know is, that I finally found a wonderful Christian counselor who I still see to this day. And I dove into my faith even more. I allowed God to carry me through this journey.

My fear of abandonment is still strong, but I am no longer letting it drive my decisions. I am noticing and naming emotions as they happen. Recognizing my past response, and what my new response is instead. I am learning truth over fear. What is true and what is my mind believing out of a fear-based thought.

When my husband passed away, I was lost. I had no idea who I really was. The grief was unbearable. But slowly, day by day, I began pushing through. Grief never ends, you just push through to the other side.

What does God want me to learn? What does God want you to learn? Everything we go through in life is an opportunity to turn to God and learn from Him. With counseling being a huge help, along with depression and anxiety medication, I am slowly learning who I really am. What my worth really is. Learning that yes, I do matter. I am learning Biblical

boundaries - easy to say... hard to do. I am learning that I CAN say no to a relationship and stand on my own two feet with God propping me up! I have learned forgiveness.

My first husband, my son’s dad, and I are now friends. We can do things together with our kids and grandkids and I am so thankful they can see the healing and the forgiveness.

We have had discussions about the past and we leave the past in the past. We cannot change what happened, but we can focus on the now.

I have learned self-respect and self-love.

I have learned that my life experiences can help people.

I have learned that I am stronger than I ever thought possible. And most importantly,

I have learned that God will never ever abandon me.

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1 Comment

Jeremiah Fulmer
Jeremiah Fulmer
Dec 11, 2023

Thank you so much for opining up and sharing your story. I believe we need to normalize discussions within our families about mental health and wellness. We never talked about or tried to heal the traumatic things that happened to me and within my family and I feel that being silent just compounds the pain and grief. It's very saddening to hear of all the loss in your life but is also heartwarming to hear your reconnection with God and that you and your first husband are able to positively and influentially participate in your children and grandchildren's lives. Thank you for sharing your story.

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